Srinagar: Terming recent floods in Kashmir as a “disaster with international dimensions”, the state government Monday said it will submit a memorandum before the government of India (GOI) pressing for special package for rehabilitation of affected people.
The government also said it is “still ignorant” about what happened between September 6 and 7 that caused the increase in water level of Jhelum leading to major floods in Srinagar city and that a team of experts has been called to monitor and ascertain the causes.
“The government is in the process of preparing a memorandum which will likely be approved by state Cabinet by this week and later submitted before government of India asking for special package for rehabilitation of the flood-hit people,” J&K’s Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khanday told reporters here while addressing a press conference, a first interaction with the media here from the authorities since the floods ravaged Srinagar.
Khanday said that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has already written to the Prime Minister of India requesting for a special package under which Rs 5 lakh compensation for each fully damaged pacca house and Rs 2 lakh for each partially damaged pacca house have been sought.
“We are optimistic that GoI will go out of its way and approve our proposal,” said Khanday.
He said that according to the rough estimates the floods have caused the damage of Rs 100,000 crore in the state out of which Rs 70,000 crore damage is estimated to be in business sector only.
To a question if the floods be declared as ‘national disaster,’ Khanday said, “This is not a national disaster, but a disaster with international dimensions. This is a classic case of urban flooding which can be good case study world over to prevent floods.”
On the occasion, Secretary, Flood Control Department, Pawan Kotwal, claimed that they had been monitoring the flood and weather situation “very closely till September 5 and there was no indication of any major floods in Srinagar city, but something happened between September 6 and 7 which raised the water level in major Jhelum tributaries causing the floods in the city.”
“We don’t know exactly what caused the sudden rise in water level in Jhelum. We have sought the help of various experts including National Management Authority experts to study the cause of sudden rise of water level in Jhelum. They will monitor the satellite image data also to ascertain the causes,” said Kotwal.
He however said that there is evidence that some flash floods occurred in some parts of Valley between September 6 and 7 that raised water level in major water tributaries and subsequently in the Jhelum.
Kotwal said the state government had presented a proposal before the GoI in 2007 for Rs 2,200 crore project for construction of second flood spill channel and dredging of Jhelum and other tributaries, but only Rs 97 crore were released in 2010 which was used in existing flood channels.
“There were some arguments back and forth, but the project was not sanctioned. I am sure the project costing Rs 2,200 crore will be sanctioned by the government of India and second flood channel from Sangam to Wullar lake will be constructed with a capacity of 1,20,000 cusec water,” said Kotwal.
Admitting that encroachments and illegal construction of the banks of Jhelum and flood-prone areas were responsible for the floods, Kotwal said, “It is essential for the whole Valley to have a flood management project.” He said the recent floods were the worst since 1902 after which Valley remained submerged for seven months.
“In 1902, the Jhelum was carrying 104,000 cusec of water, but it was 120,000 cusec this time,” said Kotwal. He said that in Pulwama certain areas were submerged under flood water because the railway track and under construction express highway did not allow the water to spread.
When asked if state government plans to redesign the railway track and express highway to avoid further floods in the area, he said, “If it comes to the conclusion of experts studying the floods we will consider it.”
Earlier giving the details of the flood loss, the Chief Secretary said that 12.5 lakh families have been affected due to floods across the state. He said 281 lives have been lost due to floods across state, with 196 in Jammu province and 85 in Kashmir Valley. 29 persons have also been reportedly missing in the floods.
He said that as per the initial assessment a total of 353,864 structures have been damaged in the state in which 83044 pacca houses have been fully damaged and 96089 partially.
He said that free ration to all the 12.5 Lakh flood affected families will be provided for a period of six months in the state.
“At least 83000 quintals of ration was pushed into Srinagar city alone from September 13 to 27 and ration is being provided to 2.70 lakh families in Srinagar on the basis of latest data of the Revenue department,” said Khanday.
Khandey said tourism infrastructure and government residential colonies have suffered losses to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore. “These are all preliminary estimates. A detailed assessment is presently underway,” he said.
The Chief Secretary said 6,000 km of road length has been damaged while 3,000 water supply schemes were affected. In the power sector, he said 3000 sub stations were damaged while in the Flood Control, 6000 ongoing works were affected. “We have been able to temporarily restore some of the water supply schemes while electricity supply has been restored in over 90 per cent areas of the state,” he added.
Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar, who was among several officers accompanying Khandey at the media briefing, said the department had suffered losses to buildings and equipment worth Rs 350 crores. He said the police department used all its resources to help the civil administration in rescue, relief and sanitation operations in the aftermath of the floods.
In the Health sector, Secretary Health Department Gazanfar Hussain said the department had incurred loss of Rs 268 crores but the department is going to procure some equipment at a cost of Rs 8.96 crore to enable basic functioning of the affected hospitals. Secretary CAPD Baseer Khan said the department has distributed 8300 tonnes of free ration following the floods while ration will be provided free of cost to 12.5 lakh affected families for six months.
“Over 2600 tonnes of ration and 2000 tonnes of sugar were damaged at Gulab Bagh store due to floods while two trucks are reported missing in transit as they did not reach the destinations,” he said.—With additional inputs from PTI